Hiking Essentials

The following are my personal recommendations of items for average hikers like myself. They all make great gifts for the hiker in your life or for when you want to treat yourself! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for supporting my hiking adventures!

TrailBuddy Trekking Poles are lightweight and collapsible. They come with interchangeable accessories for different weather and terrain. The poles easily attach to my backpack. The Trekking Poles come in different colors.


The INOXTO Lightweight Hiking Backpack has lots of pockets to store all my needed items. It also comes with a waterproof rain cover. The best part is that the backpack has two straps. One connects around the waist and the other connects around my chest. It helps alleviate any pain from my shoulders and back that come with wearing a backpack.


If you are looking for a smaller and lighter backpack, then I recommend the ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Backpack. Lots of fun colors to choose from.


Another MUST have item is a water bottle. The Hydro Flask Bottle and the Thermoflask Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle keep your water nice and cool on hot days. I always carry a 40 ounce bottle with me.



Hot sweaty summer days can deplete our bodies of the good stuff. I found Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier to be the best at replenishing the body’s need for electrolytes and vitamins. Lime and Passion Fruit are my favorite flavors.


This next item is a game changer! The mosquitos and flies can be horrible on the trails. Pop one of these nets over your cap and never look back. Just don’t wear around open flames.


Bug spray is an important item, especially to keep the ticks off. I have found OFF Deep Woods Aerosol works the best under hot and sweaty conditions.


This small First Aid Kit is perfect for your backpack. Mine has come in handy when I have scraped my leg climbing over a fallen tree on a trail. Safety first!


Another must-have summer item is sunscreen. I really like the spray sunscreen from Alba Botanica. It’s biodegradable and cruelty free. Bonus, it also works well. I use it all over my body including my face.


Neutrogena has a great sunscreen for your face. This sunscreen is lightweight and non-comedogenic.


After a long hike I use Neutrogena Cleansing Face Wipes to clean all the bug spray, sunscreen and sweat off my face. If you are prone to breakouts, I highly recommend using these to clean up before your drive home. They are also plant-based compostable.


A good pair of socks can go a long way on a hike, especially on a long hike. Darn Tough Socks stay put on your feet-no bunching up in your shoe or slipping off and no blisters. They are also guaranteed for life.



Balega is another great brand of socks and are a great option if you’re wearing sneakers on paved trails-they’re super comfortable. 


A great pair of hiking boots can make or break your hiking adventures. Oboz Sypes Mid Leather B-Dry Hiking Boots will keep your feet happy along those trails.


Don’t let the rain stop you from going on a hike. Throw on the Anyoo lightweight rain poncho and hike on! They have many colors to choose from. I like this poncho because it covers me and my backpack all in one.


I found the perfect lightweight long tank top. Most tank tops end just past my stomach, not this tank. It hangs much lower than most tank tops for a comfortable feeling all while covering your lady parts and bum area.


I never hike without a baseball cap connected to my backpack. On hot sunny days I wear it to keep the sun off my head and on rainy days I wear it to keep the rain off my glasses. Being a Minnesotan, I gotta rock a Twins cap.


Sukeen Cooling Towels are great to wear around your neck or to drop over your hot sweaty head. They help cool you down instantly and they are reusable.


Never be without a charged phone again with an Anker Portable Charger. I take lots of photos so I drain my battery quickly on long hikes.


Snacks! The best part of hikes are the snacky snacks. Clif Bars are my favorite snack. They give me energy. I have found that many of the power bars on the market make me sleepy after eating them, not Clif Bars though. My favorite are the peanut butter ones!  


That’s it Fruit Bars make a tasty hiking snack too!


Hopefully, you will never need this item however, I recommend having it just in case you run into a bear or another large animal that you need to run away from.


Winter Hiking Items

MSR Revolution Explore All-Terrain Snowshoes have great traction on snow, ice, up and downhill. They are easy to put on and they stay on. I found them to be very lightweight!


These are a must-have item for my backpack during the winter months. YakTrax are easy to put on and they stay on. No more slipping on icy trails.


I will continue to update this list as I find other must have hiking essentials. Please share the list with other hiking enthusiasts.

Fort Snelling State Park-St. Paul-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at Fort Snelling State Park.

We parked by the Thomas C. Savage Visitor Center and began our hike towards Pike Island. Let me backup a bit, this past winter Minnesota experienced its 3rd snowiest winter. This past week, the weather was in the high 80’s which meant the snow melted fast! As we neared the bridge to cross over to Pike Island we noticed…well…as you will see in the picture below, the bridge was surrounded by water. Since we didn’t have a canoe, we needed to change our hiking plans.

We decided to hike the paved trail towards Coldwater Spring. The weather was cool and rainy. It sure was nice to see little bits of spring beginning to pop out.

In the distance, we could hear running water. We exited the paved trail and began to explore the unpaved trails. A mini waterfall surrounded by colorful graffiti appeared.

As we entered Coldwater Spring, more signs of spring began to appear.

We continued to hike the unpaved trails towards Minnehaha Falls.

The Mississippi River was flowing fast. Areas that were normally dry were now flooded.

The trails led us up and down the cliffs. The heavy snow storm we had a week ago did lots of damage. Many trees were down, thick branches were snapped, and even the cliffs weren’t immune to the damage.

The trail close to the river was underwater, so back to the paved trail we went. The Ford Parkway Bridge can be seen in the distance. There is an island in the middle of the river. Currently it is under water, however, you can still see the tops of the trees.

We took the staircase back down to the trails closest to the river.

The water is close to the top of this bridge’s archway.

The trail crosses under the Steel Bridge also known as the Minnesota Veterans Home Bridge.

The closer we got to the Minnehaha Falls the louder the rushing water became.

Minnehaha Falls

As we looped back towards our starting point, more signs of spring began to appear.

We crossed over an old bridge and down an old staircase. The trail at the end of the stairs was flooded.

We hiked the paved trail back to our cars.

Today’s hiking adventure was 8.2 miles.

Afton State Park-Hastings-Minnesota

Last night’s hiking adventure was at Afton State Park.

We pulled into the park and there was a line of cars at the front office. One would have thought we were pulling into a nightclub. Since we already had a parking pass, we flew by all the cars in the VIP lane. I had to park in the overflow overflow parking lot. We were not surprised to see so many people wanting to experience a night hike. The moon was full, the trail was lit by candlelight and the temperature was decent. The sunset was gorgeous last night. The sky looked like it was on fire! By the time we began our adventure just a sliver of light was left in the sky.

The first part of the trail was smooth with a few icy spots.

There was a bonfire about a half mile into our adventure.

The next part of the hike was a little less smooth. The snow was soft and thick. One moment we are hiking on the snow, the next moment your foot falls through the soft snow causing you to trip. Everyone was making funny sound effects and laughing when slipping through the snow. At one point my right leg went deep into the snow and bam on my knees I went. We got lots of laughing in last night.

We decided to hike the trail twice due to it being a short loop. The moon was amazing!

I absolutely loved all the candles lighting our way.

I highly recommend taking in a candlelit night hike. Our hiking adventure was 4 miles.

Big Rivers Regional Trail-Mendota Heights-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at the Big Rivers Regional Trailhead.

After a week of heavy snowstorms, it felt great to get outside while the sun was shining. The temperature was a bit cool at -1 as our adventure started.

Big Rivers Trailhead has an amazing year round view of the Minnesota River and the airport. Planes were flying low overhead coming and going from the airport.

The paved trail was freshly plowed.

Giant snowballs gripped the branches of the trees. It gave the appearance of fluffy cotton balls.

The trail continued through the small town of Mendota.

Frozen water cascaded down the side of the rocky cliffs.

The confluence of the Mississippi River and the Minnesota River at Pike Island

Train tracks lay parallel to the Big River Trail at times. A long train passed by us as we hiked.

We reached the Lilydale trailhead and decided to hike the Robert Piram Regional Trail.

Tree branches were covered in snow. The snow shimmered in the sunlight.

We decided to turn around and head back to our starting point.

Once back at the Big Rivers Trailhead we took in another view of the Minnesota River.

Today’s hiking adventure was 10 miles.

Best of 2022-Minnesota

This past year, my cousin and I hiked 36 Minnesota State Parks and 30 different Parks and Trails. Whether it was raining, snowing, or the sun was shining…we hiked. Our hiking adventures accumulated to a total of 348 miles in 2022!

Minnehaha Falls-Minneapolis

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve-Rogers

Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park-Cottage Grove

St. Croix State Park-Hinckley

Elba Fire Tower-Elba

Great River Bluffs State Park-Winona

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park-Preston

Myre-Big Island State Park-Albert Lea

Blue Mounds State Park-Luverne

Broken Down Dam Park-Fergus Falls

Lake Shetek State Park-Currie

Upper Sioux Agency State Park-Granite Falls

Big Stone Lake State Park-Ortonville

Glacial Lakes State Park-Starbuck

Sibley State Park-New London

Flandrau State Park-New Ulm

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park-Little Falls

Crow Wing State Park-Brainerd

Quarry Park and Nature Preserve-Waite Park

Banning State Park-Sandstone

Salem Hills Park-Inver Grove Heights

Theodore Wirth Regional Park-Golden Valley

Louisville Swamp-Shakopee

Happy New Year! Cheers to more adventures in 2023!

Banning State Park-Sandstone-Minnesota

Today’s hiking adventure began at Banning State Park.

The weather was a cool 34 degrees as we started our hike. Mother Nature’s glitter coated the forest floor.

We hiked on the freshly fallen leaves towards Wolf Creek Trail.

Rocks jetted out from the forest floor along the trail.

Large boulders intermixed with the trees.

We arrived at Wolf Creek Falls.

Our adventure continued on a trail that was not labeled. Fall color popped everywhere we looked.

The green moss covering the rocks was so vibrant.

Large cliffs loomed above us. At times, we may have been on a deer trail, however, we continued on the small path before us.

We reached the Kettle River. What a sight!

We reached a dead end at a giant boulder along the river. We thought about getting into the river and wading around the boulder but due to the cold weather we decided that was a bad idea.

We backed up a bit and climbed up the cliffs. After catching our breath, we continued along a trail we found. After a few minutes on the cliff trail we looked below and saw another trail closer to the river. The trail looked too adventurous to pass up. So, down the cliffs we went.

The trail led us under giant boulders.

We found these cool potholes. Not sure if they were made by the flowing river or if they were man-made.

Hell’s Gate Trail was the name of the trail we were on. It was an absolute blast and hard as hell.

Today’s hiking adventure was 4.7 miles.

Myre-Big Island State Park-Albert Lea-Minnesota

We hiked Myre-Big Island State Park on July 14, 2022.

Our hiking adventure started on the Big Island Trail which looped around the island.

Big Island’s plant life was a vibrant green. Surrounding the island was the cool water of Albert Lea Lake.

We crossed the causeway to the mainland where we hiked the Bur Oak Trail to the Great Marsh Trail.

A beautiful black swallowtail graced us with its presence.

We made our way to the Blazing Star Prairie Trail. This trail was HOT! The July summer sun beat down on us. The view though made the heat worth it.

The wildflowers were loving the sun!

Briefly, we hiked the White Fox Trail to the Plum Trail until we reached the causeway again.

A curious deer greeted us when we returned to Big Island.

Mushrooms were beginning to take over a tall tree stump which created an intriguing sight.

Our hiking adventure was 8 miles.

Sakatah Lake State Park-Waterville-Minnesota

We hiked Sakatah Lake State Park on July 14th, 2022.

Our hiking adventure began early on a Thursday morning. The sun was brightly shining and the birds were singing. We started our hike on the Sumac Trail.

The Sumac Trail led us to the Oak Tree Trail.

We crossed over a little creek. It appeared to be more of a puddle than a creek though.

Briefly, we hiked the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail. We found a small frog on the paved trail. To keep it safe, we moved it to the side of the trail so it wasn’t squished by the many bikers that passed by.

The Wahpekute Trail allowed us to hike alongside Sakatah Lake.

We could tell we were the first people of the day to hike the trail. Hundreds (ok maybe not that many but it felt like it) of thin single strand spider webs crossed the trail which made for an itchy hike.

Looping back onto the Oak Tree Trail we found several beautiful mushrooms.

Our hiking adventure was 3.3 miles.

Maplewood State Park-Pelican Rapids-Minnesota

We hiked Maplewood State Park on Aug 13th, 2022.

Minnesota is home to over 10,000 lakes. The trail we hiked took us past four different lakes however, the 9,250-acre park has 8 major lakes, 7 small lakes, and many ponds. A pelican statue greeted us as we began the trail.

The winding trail led us through the forest.

At times the forest was so quiet. The air was still, the birds were silent, and the small critters were absent. With heavy dark clouds covering the sky, the forest became a bewildering and mysterious place. The lake views echoed this energy.

Scattered throughout the forest were the most amazing mushrooms.

Fall colors were beginning to pop on some of the leaves.

The final stretch of the trail led to an open prairie. Several horses shared the trail with us.

Our hiking adventure was 7.4 miles.

Rice Lake State Park-Owatonna-Minnesota

We hiked Rice Lake State Park on June 26th, 2022.

Our adventure began on the trail by the shoreline of Rice Lake.

The trail led us through the lush forest.

We found an open burl on a tree that became more fascinating the closer we looked. Unique spirals on the bark of the tree burl intrigued us. It almost looked like the sky from The Starry Night painting by Vincent Van Gogh.

The trees on the trail continued to display their individuality.